Differences between Sucrose, Aspartame, Saccharin and Stevia Extract
San Antonio, TX, Today, some of the most used alternative sweeteners for sweeten foods and drinks are sucrose, aspartame, saccharine and stevia extract.
Sucrose is a modified form of table sugar which has no calories and is 600 times sweeter than sugar. Its flavor is considerably different to table sugar and does not decompose when heated. It is commonly used all over the world, alone or with other sweeteners, and can be found in more than 4,500 foods and drinks.
Aspartame is an artificial sweetener which is almost 200 times sweeter than sugar. It is a protein and as such, contains 4 calories per gram. However, it is so sweet that only a small amount is needed and so its calorific value is insignificant. It decomposes when heated and is therefore not suitable for cooking. It has almost completely replaced saccharin as the most commonly used sweetener in ‘diet’ drinks. There have been huge controversies over its safety although agency reports claim that it is safe for consumption. It is the biggest source of complaints to the FDA, more than any other product or medication.
Saccharin is an artificial sweetener that continues to dominate the global market of high intensity sweeteners for levels of consumption. Asia continues to be by far the world’s biggest consumer of saccharin. Saccharin was the first artificial sweetener which was discovered more than 120 years ago. Like most artificial sweeteners, it was discovered by accident whilst looking for other unrelated substances. It is 300 times sweeter than sugar, but it has a slightly unpleasant metallic aftertaste. It contains no calories. It doesn’t tolerate high temperatures so it is not suitable for cooking. It blends well with other sweeteners or even with a small amount of sugar as in some ‘diet’ or ‘zero’ drinks.
Stevia extract is probably one of the alternative sweeteners which has recently generated more scientific research. It is a zero calorie sweetener of natural origin, extracted from the leaves of the plant species Stevia rebaudiana. Only certain parts of the stevia leaf are sweet. Furthermore, the term ‘stevia’ typically refers to a crude preparation, which is not authorized by food authorities for human consumption.
The sweet components of the stevia plant are known as steviol glycosides, which are the ones used as sweeteners in food and beverages. These sweeteners are up to 480 times sweeter than sugar. According to the Global Stevia Institute (GSI), all steviol glycosides are low in calories because they are poorly absorbed in the body. They pass through the upper gastrointestinal tract fully intact and are excreted in the urine.
- García Almeida, J.M. Gracia M.ª Casado Fdez. and J. García Alemán: A current and global review of sweeteners; regulatory aspects. Nutrición Hospitalaria, 2013.
SVETIA® Calorie – Free Sweetener is made with cane sugar and stevia extract. One packet of SVETIA® contains only one gram of carbohydrates. People with diabetes are advised to check with their registered dietitian or physician.